Culture

A group of office workers at a conference table with laptops

Getting Leaders On Board With Change

December 7 @ 12:07 am CST

How to approach leaders that are stuck in tradition and often struggle with changing or trying something new. I’ve been a futurist for 20 years, and at just about every conference I’ve presented, someone has come up to me afterwards and said something similar to this: “I agree with what you say about the need to change, engage younger generations, and plan for the future — but I can’t apply it. I’m not the leader. And the people I work for have no desire to change. The people I work for are stuck in the past.” This is a space where many people exist, working in an organization underneath a leader or board of directors who either can’t or won’t be open to the concept of change. As a result, these team members feel powerless to innovate. They have ideas, but they believe they have no voice. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the 20th century, leadership was the equivalent of power, fueled by a top down, ‘do-it-because-I-said-so’ approach. It was a role that had to be earned over time, restricted to people with significant experience and a specific job title. In its era, this approach to leadership was effective. Here and now, this approach is highly ineffective. Here and now, organizations need leaders who are willing to disrupt the status quo and be open to new ideas and solutions. Here and now, the best leaders are visionary and add value to an organization—not slow it down or kill initiative. Regrettably, too many people think about and define leadership as though we’re still working in the 20th century. They think leadership remains limited to positions and titles and say things like “my leader won’t change”. If you haven’t heard it before, I will say it now: A leader who refuses to change isn’t permission to be complacent. It’s an outdated, irrelevant notion that people in ivory towers, sitting at mahogany board tables should grant…

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welcome sign

Creating Positive Culture For Your Association

December 7 @ 12:07 am CST

Culture is not some inanimate object to scoff at or neglect. Fueled by economic decline, rapidly changing technology, and demographic shifts, culture is more powerful than ever. Culture is not some inanimate object to scoff at or neglect. Fueled by economic decline, rapidly changing technology, and demographic shifts, culture is more powerful than ever. Here are a few tips for creating a positive culture for your association: Gain support. Start with people who have considerable influence in the organization. (Note: The board and senior staff aren’t always the most influential.) If you get the influencers committed to change, cultural challenges will be easier to resolve. Provide proof. In the 1990s a New York Police Commissioner made his top brass—including himself—ride the subways day and night to understand why frightened New Yorkers had come to call it the “Electric Sewer.” Instead of just lecturing on the need for change, get people to experience the harsh realities that make it necessary. Focus on values. Core values form the foundation on which the association performs work and behaves. Core values are who you are and why, not who, you serve. If you’re serious about your values, and if you hire (and even fire) around them, you’ll have a culture that speaks of who you are and who you want to be. Welcome. Associations have about a 60-day window of opportunity from the time a member joins until that member decides whether to renew the membership. An association should strive to create a positive experience for members year-round, but that first 60 days are especially critical to making members feel welcome, appreciated, and engaged. Details, details. It’s hard to feel good about your membership if you don’t have any idea how it’s benefitting you. There should be no mystery or exclusivity within your association. Be open with, and effectively communicate to, the membership on a consistent basis via multiple communication streams. Celebrate. Every person, regardless of age or influence, wants to be appreciated. How do…

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communication between generations

Is Your Association’s Culture Helping Or Hurting Member Recruitment And Retention?

December 7 @ 12:07 am CST

As an association executive, you may have the power to change your association’s mission with the stroke of a pen. And you may have the ability to hire, fire, promote and demote people with relatively little effort. But changing an entrenched culture is the toughest task you will face. To do so, you must win the hearts and minds of your staff and membership, and that requires a great deal of effort and persuasion. Culture is not something you can actually see, yet it permeates the environment and experiences your association creates for its members. It’s the values, beliefs, assumptions, experiences, and habits that create your association’s behavior and ways of working together. Culture is powerful. Now, more than ever, culture has the muscle to make or break your association. Here’s why: The recent recession, coupled with an extraordinary technology boom, has forced members to question the value of your association’s membership. Data has shown that often younger generations are driven by personal happiness and are heavily influenced by an organization’s culture. In other words, culture makes a significant difference in how effective your association is and will be at recruiting and retaining members and generating revenue. Economic decline and rapidly changing technology have made associations vulnerable. Members of all ages are likely questioning the return on investment for their dues. The youngest will continue to pose this question largely because these generations define and respond to culture differently. Generational differences can spur cultural challenges for an association, but there are other causes, as well. Resistance to change, lack of management savvy, poor customer service, unwieldy boards, and role confusion can all lead to culture problems. Here are a few red flags that will pop up when culture is a concern: high turnover among staff, volunteers, or board difficulty recruiting or retaining members negative feedback from your members or others emotional outbursts (e.g., arguments, storming out of a meeting, and so forth) no-shows (e.g., board members…

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wave

The Millennial Wave

December 7 @ 12:07 am CST

Sarah Sladek was interviewed as a contribution to this article by CEO Update. Associations would seem to have a leg up when it comes to attracting millennial employees. This generation, according to research, wants to be inspired by meaningful work, and associations are mission-driven organizations. But the reality is often different. Many CEOs find themselves challenged by recruiting, managing and retaining millennial staff. “You can’t twirl your arms without coming across a news story about millennials in the workplace,” said Paul Bellantone, CEO of Promotional Products Association International. “It came to a point where we needed to not just acknowledge it, but respond to it in meaningful ways.” Read the complete article here.

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